VANCOUVER, Aug. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - TELUS is calling on Industry Minister James Moore to carefully consider all the facts and perspectives about the upcoming 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction to ensure he makes a fair and thoughtful decision on how to proceed. Without clarification, the current auction structure has the potential to impact thousands of Canadian jobs, drain billions of dollars from Canadian pension plans, and significantly reduce investment in rural wireless infrastructure that is critical to improved healthcare and education and the competitiveness of Canada's small businesses.
"We welcome competition from any quarter, and have advocated for lifting foreign ownership restrictions in Canada since 2001," said Darren Entwistle, TELUS President and CEO. "Our only ask is that we be allowed to compete on a level playing field, without being hobbled by special advantages granted to foreign companies that dwarf Canada's entire telecom industry."
The current rules have three critical loopholes that give giant foreign carriers like Verizon unfair advantages over Canadian companies:
- The current rules would allow Verizon to bid on two of the four blocks of prime wireless spectrum being auctioned, fully half the available prime bandwidth which wireless companies will require to serve customers into the future, especially in rural Canada given the superior signal reach of 700 MHz spectrum. This could result in one of Canada's major wireless companies as well as the developing wireless firms not acquiring any of this vital spectrum at all. Canada has globally-leading wireless service quality based on the highest private investment in telecom networks per-capita worldwide as documented in the recent OECD study. This service quality would be compromised if this unfair distribution of spectrum occurs.
- The current rules would allow Verizon to build infrastructure in urban centres only and ignore rural and suburban Canada. The current rules would furthermore allow Verizon to piggyback on existing Canadian networks rather than building their own network. Notably, if Verizon was required to build their own network, it would result in significant job creation and economic investment across the country, especially in rural Canada.
- The current rules would allow Verizon to buy small wireless carriers in Canada while preventing Canadian firms like TELUS from competing to buy them. This would enable Verizon to purchase these firms at artificially depressed values and thereby gain access to the spectrum they bought at a 41 per cent taxpayer-subsidized discount in 2008.